Have you ever wondered how a teacher knows what to teach and when to teach it? How can a teacher in Meetessee know that her new student transferring from Lusk is ready for fourth-grade math? With local control of schools, how does the state ensure that all of Wyoming’s graduates are ready?
In Wyoming, schools must teach a specific set of standards across nine content areas: Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science, Health Education, Physical Education, Fine & Performing Arts, Foreign Language, and Career & Vocational Education. Standards are currently being developed in a 10th content area, Computer Science, for implementation in 2022. Taken together they are referred to as the Wyoming Content and Performance Standards.
According to the Wyoming Department of Education, “Wyoming Content and Performance Standards articulate a set of expectations for what students should know and be able to do, enabling them to be prepared for college and career success; to live a life that contributes to the global community.” The standards also ensure every educator in Wyoming knows what content students should learn at individual grades, such as third grade, or in particular grade spans, such as 9-12 grade.
To ensure students are learning and educators are effective, the implementation of each of Wyoming’s Content and Performance Standards is measured by local assessments, as well as statewide annual student assessments, like WY-TOPP, teacher and leader accountability measures, and a district accreditation process.
The most dramatic changes in state standards were when the state board adopted the new standards for English/language arts and mathematics in 2013. These sets of standards were largely based on the Common Core State Standards and now form the basis for WY-TOPP testing. In 2017, new science standards were adopted by the board that were based on the Next Generation Science Standards and add new subjects including engineering and technology.
Additional legislative mandates have added “Indian Education for All” modeled after the Montana program of the same name and Computer Science as a new, tenth subject area.
This important work relies on the State Board of Education, Wyoming Department of Education, and the interested public lending their voice to ensure strong relevant standards are guiding the future of Wyoming.